When I think of all the beautiful places I’ve been, quaint places in nature are usually at the top of my list. However, Zurich, Switzerland is a gorgeous city. There is not a dirty part of this city, I’m convinced. I had such a spectacular weekend here in Zurich and it makes me want to travel even more of this country! Here’s your guide to a lovely weekend trip to Zurich.
Everything in Zurich can be reached by walking. If you start at the main train station you can loop your way down the river until you reach the lake, then cross over and work your way back up the other side.
I also recommend staying just outside the city. You can find some reasonable AirBNB’s in the surrounding neighborhoods. I stayed in Rüschlikon and had a view of the lake from my balcony. The taxi back to the AirBNB wasn’t too expensive when it was split between four people, but Zurich also has an expansive public transit system you can figure out!
Hit the Lake
I’ve never seen water as beautiful as Lake Zurich. It’s filled with run-off from the Alps and it’s a deep teal color, but close-up you can see straight to the bottom. If it’s warm enough, start your day with a dip! If it’s chilly, still make your way to a dock so you can get a view of the suburbs wrapping their way all around the water.
Walk through Local Gardens
All around the lake, especially in the neighborhoods outside of downtown, there are public gardens right along Lake Zurich. You can see residential life, enjoy the flowers and more views of Lake Zurich. You’ll also find a few lakeside restaurants you can come back to for dinner.
Tour the Lindt Factory
Just outside of downtown is a Lindt factory. Book a tour for the 40-minute Chocolate Experience and get a 10% off coupon for the gift shop. You can find Lindt chocolate all over the city (even in the train station if you forget to pick some up while you’re there).
Take a Walking Tour of Old Town
The tourist office in the train station is so helpful! I walked in and got a map and one of the employees highlighted a route I could take to get around. There are some gorgeous old churches in Zurich, including one with the largest clock face in all of Europe. Enjoy the open plazas, shops along the river and quaint restaurants.
Eat Cheese Fondue for Lunch
If you’re willing to splurge, Switzerland is known for fondue! This is a staple on a journey to Zurich, as long as you have the cash for it. The Swiss Franc has almost an even exchange rate to the U.S. Dollar. It was about $40 for cheese for the table, and then between $25-$30 for the meat, per person. This is something I have to try next time I’m in Switzerland! You can smell the cheese as you get close to restaurants that are serving it. An employee at the tourist office recommended Swiss Chuchi, so if you go check it out!
Catch a View of the City from Lindenhof
This park on top of a hill has one of the best views in all of Zurich. Expect to wait to get your picture, everyone wants to come here! The park itself didn’t impress me much: it was all gravel with one fountain. However, once you see the views from its ledge, you’ll understand why you made the trek.
Visit a Museum
There are so many museums in Zurich! Whether you’re interested in art, clocks, Switzerland’s history or the Opera, there is a place for you. If you have the time, make a stop into one. The Museum of Art and the Swiss National Museum are probably the most popular museums in Zurich.
Take a Water Taxi Ride
If you want to enjoy the water without splurging for a dinner cruise, take a water taxi ride! It’s only $4 and it can get you around the lake or the city, depending on which tour you choose. (I use the term ‘tour’ loosely. It’s just a taxi! It’ll get you where you want to go, but that’s it). It can get warm under the glass roof, but it’s neat to be so close on the water and to be able to see the old buildings looming over you from the canal.
Climb to the top of Grossmünster
This gorgeous old church is one of the most iconic buildings in Zurich’s skyline. Its twin towers can be seen from almost anywhere, and better yet, you can climb to the top of them! It’s a tight squeeze up the spiral staircase, so I recommend going when the weather is cool or early in the morning before many people arrive. Once you’re at the top there are four balconies you can climb out on to get the view from every side.
Head over to Sukkulenten-Sammlung Zürich
This botanical garden focuses on succulents from around the world! Walk through the green houses, as well as outdoor stands, and learn about the different types of plants. There are books and audio guides in multiple languages. It’s also a great place to bring children, and they have free lockers to hold your belongings!
Check out Zurich’s Night Life
Niederdorf and Zurich West are two of the most popular neighborhoods to go out in. There are tons of bars and clubs – basically any type of music you can imagine is here! My personal recommendation is El Lokal – an awesome bar with live music, two floors and an outdoor seating area. It even has a delicious little food stand!
This is just the tip of the iceberg on what you can do in Zurich, and I haven’t even mentioned the awesome hiking trails within a few hours of the city. It’s surrounded by the Alps! If you have the time, get out of the city and do some exploration as well. If you plan your trip at the end of September you can visit during a festival where all the cows come home. Farmers decorate the cows with flowers and bells and they walk down from the mountains as winter sets in. It’s a ways outside of the city so plan ahead if you want to attend!
What else do you do in Zurich? I want to plan a visit back so I’ll take all of your recommendations!